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Amid corporate-generated hysteria

Libya’s Qaddafi to visit New York

Published Sep 21, 2009 10:16 PM

Libyan leader Mummar Qaddafi will attend the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York City later this month amid a corporate-media provoked racist campaign to prevent him from staying in Englewood, N.J., on a plot of land owned by Libya’s U.N. Mission. Libya’s government announced on Aug. 31 that Qaddafi, who is also chairperson of the continental African Union, would not stay in Englewood but remain in New York City during the General Assembly gathering of over 150 heads of state from around the globe.

This campaign of anti-Libyan hysteria is part of the fallout emanating from the Scottish government’s decision to release Libyan Abdel Basset al-Megrahi from prison Aug. 20 on humanitarian grounds, as al-Megrahi was recently diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer. Al-Megrahi had been convicted in connection with the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in December 1998. A former airline executive, al-Megrahi has always maintained his innocence, and was in the process of appealing his conviction when he was released.

In response to al-Megrahi’s release, Washington has resumed political attacks on the Libyan government. President Barack Obama said that the Libyan government should have placed al-Megrahi under house arrest and that welcoming him by the people of this North African country was a “mistake.”

Some Englewood residents and its mayor said they would protest Qaddafi’s visit and even block him from setting up a tent on the land the Libyans own. These efforts illustrate the renewed attacks on the Libyan government, which U.S. imperialism has for years called a “terrorist state.”

Under former President Ronald Reagan, the U.S. bombed Libya in April 1986, killing scores of people and attacking Qaddafi’s family, even killing one of his daughters. The African country had been subjected to economic sanctions and a ban on flights from other nations.

In a letter published in the New York Times on Aug. 30, Saif Al-Islam El-Qaddafi, the son of the Libyan leader, disputed Western press reports that the former political prisoner was given a “hero’s welcome.” He said that the people who welcomed al-Megrahi were largely his relatives and clan members.

He wrote that “Libya has worked with Britain, the United States and other Western countries for more than five years now to defuse the tensions of earlier times, and to promote trade, security and improved relations. I believe that clarifying the facts in the Lockerbie case can only further assist this process.”

Libya commemorates 40 years of revolution

Libya had been colonized by Italy during the early part of the 20th century. Even though it was granted formal independence in 1951, Libya remained largely under the influence of the West. On Sept. 1, 1969, Col. Mummar Qaddafi led a popular coup against the Western-backed monarchy of King Idris and the situation changed.

Qaddafi headed a group within the military—the Revolutionary Command Council—which in 1969 proclaimed the Libya Arab Republic. The motto of the RCC was “freedom, socialism, and unity” and the group pledged itself to eliminating injustice and backwardness. After negotiating with Washington, the RCC government told U.S. military forces to leave Libya and close Wheelus Air Base.

Libya also provided assistance to various national liberation movements and progressive governments throughout the Arab world and Africa. The government Qaddafi heads has utilized the vast oil reserves in the country to build up the national infrastructure and to provide education for the Libyan masses and other visitors from throughout the world.

“In recent years the entire country has slowly begun to resemble one massive construction site. ‘Flats are going up all over Libya,’ says business consultant Sami Zaptia. ‘After September 1, we expect some announcements as to who exactly is going to get the houses.’” (BBC, Aug. 31)

A special African Union meeting in Libya as well as the erection of large-scale housing developments marked Libya’s 40th anniversary celebrations.

According to the Energy Information Administration, “Libya, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), holds the largest proven oil reserves in Africa, followed by Nigeria and Algeria. The Oil and Gas Journal (OGJ) says that Libya had total proven oil reserves of 43.7 billion barrels as of January 2009, up from 41.5 billion barrels in 2008. About 80 percent of Libya’s proven oil reserves are located in the Sirte basin, which is responsible for 90 percent of the country’s oil output.” (Official energy statistics from the U.S. government)

In recent years Libya has emerged from the U.S.- and British-imposed sanctions and isolation. Italy, Libya’s former colonial ruler, will honor the 40th anniversary celebration with a display by its Air Force aerobatics team. Trade between Libya and Italy has expanded significantly over the last few years.

Libya has also extended its economic cooperation agreements with other countries throughout the European continent. The country provides 20 percent of the natural gas supplies to Switzerland. It has agreements to supply natural gas to Spain and Italy as well.

The Libyans have also held discussions with Britain and the United States about resuming economic cooperation. It was reported that the release of al-Megrahi was related to ongoing negotiations involving oil exploration and importation.

Libya’s celebration of the 40th anniversary of the revolution has been acknowledged by governments throughout the African continent and the world. President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe traveled to Libya to participate in the AU meeting there and to recognize the achievements of the country over the last four decades.

Libyan special envoy Mukthar Ganas visited Zimbabwe in early August to invite President Mugabe to the AU summit and the revolutionary festivities.